Siri Beerends

Siri Beerends

Researcher SETUP Media Lab and PhD Candidate University of Twente

Demystify AI

When it comes to data, artificial intelligence and digitisation, we often think that we’re talking about immaterial things. But the cloud isn’t an immaterial abstraction in which our data magically becomes one with the universe. Keeping the cloud operational and training AI models requires servers that are emitting even more carbon than in the worst-case scenario predicted by scientists.

We need to demystify artificial intelligence, peel off the marketing layer and reveal the physical world hiding beneath AI. At SETUP, I do that by working together with designers to make the ethical implications of digital technology tangible for a broader audience – such as through an interactive installation that lays bare the human labour concealed behind AI (‘clickwork’). A more sustainable world means solving problems by sometimes taking things away instead of constantly adding new ones.

The same holds true for digitisation: more data is not always the right solution for complex social challenges. Some issues (such as predicting recidivism, profiling risks and recognising emotions) can’t be ‘datafied’ at all. Perhaps we need a committee for the reduction of bureaucracy and ICT so that we can shrink our energy-guzzling ICT footprint

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